Jonathan writes:

Hello, I recently bought a new laptop for when I go to university; it runs Windows 8. Looking around LockerGnome, I’ve come across many free anti-virus programs. I’ve been using Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG.

Only just two days after buying my laptop, AVG has picked up a virus/malware. I’m not sure how I got this malware since I’ve only been on websites such as Facebook, Skype, Steam, and Gmail. I have no clue where I’ve gotten this virus — and AVG didn’t warn me when I got it. (It picked it up during a routine system scan.) My dad said I only needed AVG and Windows Defender, but on previous Windows computers he downloaded other programs such as AdwareFree and TweakRegCleaner. I have no clue if I need any of these on my new laptop or where to get them.

So my question is: what security programs do I need to keep my laptop malware free? And how do I know if this recent virus is, indeed, completely gone? I scanned it three times and AVG has come up clean, but I’ve heard viruses can hide themselves.

Malware is definitely no fun — especially these days. As the security programs we use get better, the malware writers and script kiddies get smarter. It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle, and one that I hate having to deal with. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience this so soon after buying a new machine. Let’s see what we can do to make sure all is well — and keep you that way.

How to Remove a Virus from Windows 8First of all, I want to make clear that I never advocate the use of any type of registry cleaner. I have an excellent post over on my personal blog written by my social media manager Kat, which explains the reasons behind this. Please take the time to read through it so that you will understand for yourself why it just isn’t worth it to install one of those programs. Make sure your dad sees it, as well!

As you’ve learned, gone are the days where you had to be surfing adult sites or downloading illegal things to get a virus. There are websites geared toward kids that will carry a “drive-by” malware download, even! This type of malware can install itself on your system without you having to click anything or download so much as one file. Yes, you still need to be careful when opening an email attachment or trying to get the latest music and movies from questionable sites, but you also need to have good security programs to keep your system clean.

My first recommendation is to download and install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This program is pretty amazing and is maintained by a team of the best security experts in the world. Once installed, be sure to update it to the latest definitions and then run a complete system scan. MBAM will tell you if there are any issues found on the machine still. If you are still not quite sure, you can always register on the company’s forums for free and post to ask for additional help from the experts there.

Update MBAM and run a scan with it once a week to make sure nothing has wormed its way onto your system. The free software doesn’t protect in real-time, but the paid version does if you can afford it. MBAM can also safely be run alongside Windows Defender, which you should definitely keep using.

When you want to clean out temporary files, I recommend using TFC (Temp File Cleaner). This small, free utility is 100% safe and simple to use. Kat personally knows the man responsible for creating this tool and also vouches for how well it works. It’s intuitive — just click and run! This will empty all temp files on the computer to keep things clean and quick.

If you run into issues that you aren’t able to resolve yourself, you can always post for free help from real security experts on the MBAM forums as I mentioned earlier, or over on GeeksToGo. Both of these sites are reputable and provide quality help — even when it comes to the newest or trickiest malware making the rounds.